Seven Girls' Monastery at Wadi Feiran
by Jimmy Dunn
"And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeying, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim...Then came Amalek and fought with Israel in Rephidim" (Exodus, 17:1,8).
The biblical Rephidim is today's Feiran (Firan, Faran, Pharan) Oasis in the Sinai. The Greek Seven Girls' Monastery (it may be referred to as the Monastery of Moses, the Monastery of Feiran, the Seven Sisters Monastery, the Monastery of the Seven Nuns or even Dir Za'ir Monastery) is located on a spring in the middle of the oasis where it is thought that Joshua defeated the Amalekites while Moses and Aaron gave prayerful support. Many visitors to Egypt who go on to the Sinai will visit the convent on their way to or coming from St. Catherine's Monastery. Today, the Seven Girl's Monastery falls under the authority of St. Catherine's Monastery.
Old paths lead to the top of Jabel Tehuna which overlooks the wadi, and passes through the remains of ancient graves and buildings, including two Byzantine churches. It is from this mountain that Moses supposedly observed the battle with the Amelecites.
The Old Pharan Archbishopric
The Wadi Feiran is a beautiful four kilometer area surrounded by palms, vines and trees and is the Southern Sinai's largest oasis, often called the "Pearl of the Sinai". A little of everything is cultivated here, from corn to barley, wheat to tamarisks, but the main harvest is still dates.
Exterior and Interior of the Church of the Prophet Moses
The Oasis is also one of the first Christian centers in the Sinai. This was once the seat of the archbishop of Sinai (from the 4th through the 6th century) and the ruins of the archbishopric can be seen near the convent. The convent itself was established in the fourth century, but the oasis Christian community is mentioned as far back as the second century and there are references to early Anchorites (the predecessors of monks) here as early as 365 AD.
Near the Oasis is also, according to legend as well as locals and some scholars, the rock that Moses struck with his staff to bring forth a spring so his people could drink.